Ps and Qs Education

An edge over the machines

The Ps and Qs that we sometimes take for granted may, after all, be the basics that help us advance in the new decade

The recent months have been filled with dread, with a crisis on every imaginable count. Yet, let me begin on a reassuring note — not all is lost.

The last two decades saw some of the greatest innovations coming to life. We saw the rise of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. There are smart devices, cars and other intelligent machines all around us. And they say the 2020s will herald more advances in that direction. And as a species, we will be under more surveillance. A culture of distrust and destructive change will take over most organisations. Yet, I say we shouldn’t despair.

These possibilities present tremendous opportunities — especially for young professionals — to reaffirm their humanity and sharpen a quality perhaps only human beings are capable of: empathy.

We already know we stand to lose many of our routine jobs to robots. We are in the Age of Machines.. There’s even likely to be an Olympic tournament for robots alone in the 2020s. But they remind us of something we tend to forget sometimes — only we can feel. Only we can emote. We already have Emotion AI (where machines can observe, remember and analyse human emotions) being used in fields such as advertising to boost business. But understanding emotions isn’t the same as feeling them.

Soft skills

In the workplace, as we acquire more evolved and niche skills, new jobs will be created. The need to be agile, nimble and flexible will be more urgent than ever. And as change sweeps us, as global issues envelop humankind, we will need to be more aware, sensitive and empathetic. As well-being becomes paramount, we need to seek channels to stay happy and purposeful at work. Finding and holding on to a purpose will help us create a difference not only to others but to our own minds. If you have a team, you could invest in their well-being. That could be your purpose.

All of us have the choice to be the best versions of ourselves. We can celebrate our most sensitive, aware, kindest, most empathetic selves and duplicate, even multiply, our moments of kindness. That is how we will cope with the changes set to come. Of course, this is not to imply that these positive emotions will help us win the race against machines. There will be no race in the first place — machines will augment human intelligence — as many know already. Our emotional intelligence will help us stay calm, graceful and adept as major transformations come our way.

Let us not forget to smile at a colleague who’s just joined the company we work in, take her to the pantry on a tea break, be approachable to anyone who might need assistance, and collaborate with all.

The Ps and Qs that we sometimes take for granted, or even forget may, after all, be the basics that help us advance in the new decade.

Photo: Freepik

The writer is a literary journalist. She also heads Corporate Communications at UST Global. @anupamaraju

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 9:43:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/an-edge-over-the-machines/article30592645.ece

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